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A rock icon tells us what it's like to replace a rock legend


Chester Bennington is a married father of six, and he sings in two bands destined for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame — Linkin Park and Stone Temple Pilots.

“It has definitely been a juggling act,” he tells me. “But I work really well under pressure.”

Wait, when did Bennington replace STP singer Scott Weiland? Oh right.

Weiland has been in and out of rehab forever. STP fired him this year. Weiland and STP have been fighting over which band mates have the right to perform STP songs.

But on Friday, you can see Stone Temple Pilots with Chester Bennington play at Fremont Street Experience’s 3rd Street Stage for the D hotel’s first-year anniversary. (Uncle Kracker plays there Thursday, Kid Rock on Saturday; see TheD.com.)

Bennington — who is in a terrific mood every time I talk to him — tells me what it’s like to be a rock icon replacing his rock idol.

“Things have been really good” with STP, he says. “We all have the same sense of humor. We make the same jokes. We get along great. And we all enjoy what we’re doing.”

Bennington joins three original STP musicians — bassist Robert DeLeo, guitarist Dean DeLeo and drummer Eric Kretz.

“For Robert and Dean and Eric, it hasn’t been a lot of fun for a long time. They always say, ‘When making music isn’t fun anymore, then you gotta get out.’ ”

STP was going to replace Weiland no matter what. Bennington is happy they chose him. He has cited STP as a top influence for years. He is a fanboy. So there’s a complex joy in replacing Weiland.

“He’s written some of my favorite songs of my life,” he says. “But at the same time, I have to be realistic and understand this move wasn’t necessarily a shocker. If the band wanted to continue making music, this is what they were going to have to do.

“I respect Scott, and I don’t want to hear anything, or be a part of anything, that might diminish my view of him. I just want to move forward and make awesome music. And I want to have fun doing it.”

Does he have better insights into STP classic songs now that he is on the inside?

“I do,” he says. “I can tell the core creative power of Stone Temple Pilots is Robert and Dean. These guys are the guys writing the songs, and in many cases also writing the melodies.”

Bennington is singing in a way that honors Weiland without aping him.

“I don’t want to be a caricature of Scott. I definitely want my own personality to shine through, especially with the new music.

“With the older stuff,” he says, “it’s gonna be hard not to sound like Scott, sometimes. That’s just the nature of the beast.”

Bennington got the blessing of his Linkin Park buddies before he joined STP.

“Absolutely. I would have turned it down if the guys had felt bad about it.”

In fact, Linkin Park is rolling along. Their new album, “Recharged,” comes out Oct. 29.

Oh, and don’t forget, Bennington co-owns Club Tattoo in Planet Hollywood’s Miracle Mile Shops.

“I count my blessings all the time. Man, 99.9 percent of my problems are good problems to have. I’m very grateful to be in this position to do what I love — and now in two bands I absolutely feel are the best. It’s really cool.”

Doug Elfman’s column appears on Page 3A in the main section on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. He also writes for Neon on Fridays. Email him at delfman@reviewjournal.com. He blogs at reviewjournal.com/elfman.